An injury to senior Chris Wright in a loss in the last matchup has the 17th-ranked Hoyas suddenly struggling.
Georgetown looks to put a second straight forgettable offensive performance behind it and avoid losing its third in a row when it visits a Bearcats team trying to secure a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.
The Hoyas (21-8, 10-7) entered last Wednesday’s home game against Cincinnati (23-7, 10-7) winners of nine of 10 and were inching closer to earning a double-bye in the conference tournament.
They ranked second in the nation in field-goal percentage at 49.7 but shot 25.0 percent—their lowest mark since at least the 1996-97 season—in a 58-46 loss.
The biggest blow, however, came when Wright hurt his non-shooting hand during a collision in the second half.
Wright, who leads the Hoyas with 5.4 assists per game and was averaging 21.7 points in his previous three contests, is expected to return in time for the NCAA tournament.
His play and leadership clearly were missed in last Saturday’s 58-51 loss to Syracuse, as Georgetown shot 36.0 percent and had 16 turnovers to 10 assists. Hollis Thompson started in Wright’s place and was 0 for 5 from the field.
The Hoyas have lost three of four and another defeat could drop them out of the top eight in the Big East, meaning they wouldn’t get a first-round bye.
“We came out on the losing end,” John Thompson III said last weekend, “but whether Chris is out there - when Chris gets back, until then - we’re going to figure this out.”
Thompson’s team needs to figure out how to play better down the stretch, as the offense has struggled in the second half over the last two games.
The Hoyas led the Orange 45-43 with 10 minutes left but went 1 for 12 from the field the rest of the way. That came after Georgetown missed 19 of 23 shots after halftime against Cincinnati.
Austin Freeman, Georgetown’s leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, was the only Hoya to have any success last week against the Bearcats, the nation’s fourth-best team in allowing an average of 58.6 points. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting while the rest of the team was 5 of 35.
Dion Dixon and Yancy Gates each scored 17 in that game for Cincinnati, which would earn a first-round bye with a win Saturday.
The Bearcats, winners of three of four, seem to be in good position for their first NCAA tournament berth since 2005 with last week’s win at Georgetown and Wednesday’s 67-60 victory at Marquette.
They’ve reached double figures in conference wins for the first time since joining the Big East in 2005-06, but aren’t concerning themselves with a postseason invitation quite yet.
“We’re looking to the next game, we’re not looking two weeks later,” said guard Cashmere Wright, who had a team-high 15 points against the Golden Eagles. “We’ve still got to beat the next team, and then worry about the Big East tournament.”